THE ISRAEL POLICE conducts its high-level investigations through Lahav 433, the country’s ‘FBI,’ headquartered in this building in Lod..
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
A bill that would bar police from making recommendations to the attorney-general at the end of criminal investigations would make it harder for the state prosecution to do its job, State Attorney Shai Nitzan told the Knesset Interior Committee on Tuesday.
The committee is headed by MK David Amsalem (Likud), who proposed the bill. He insisted that the bill had nothing to do with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s multiple criminal investigations but rather with helping the prosecution make unbiased decisions without police recommendations clouding its judgment.
Nitzan told Amsalem and the other MKs at the meeting that on the contrary, the prosecution wants the opinion of police after they interview dozens of witnesses and spend months working on a case.
“It is decisive for me to hear the recommendation of the police,” Nitzan said. “The police efforts to gather evidence is hard work, and the country cannot exist without it. We want to get to the truth.
This bill says no, don’t listen to them. You won’t hear them. For us to deal with crime the best way, give us the tools. Please don’t tie my hands or my fingers behind my back.”
Nitzan revealed that 33,000- 35,000 cases come to his office every year, of which only 3,500 to 4,000 come with police recommendations for an indictment.
Amsalem complained that police recommendations taint a suspect as being guilty, often two or three years before the attorney-general rules. He noted recent cases of public figures who had been cleared following lengthy investigations.
“There are tens of thousands of people whose lives were ruined,” Amsalem said. “Sometimes, such probes cause people to lose their jobs, their families break up, and their kids go to school with the mark of Cain on their head. I am sorry I didn’t propose this bill sooner.”
But other MKs attending the stormy meeting charged the committee chairman with proposing the bill only for Netanyahu.
Amsalem threw out two opposition MKs for unruly behavior.
Zionist Union faction head Yoel Hasson was thrown out for objecting to a plan to hold one meeting on his own bill and then bring it to a vote first thing in the morning the following day. Hasson asked Amsalem if he drafted the bill together with Netanyahu.
“The elephant in the room is a corrupt Netanyahu, and the bill is trying to help him during his investigations,” said Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, who was also thrown out by Amsalem.
Likud MK Oren Hazan defended the bill, saying it was justified and necessary.
“Police leaks are attempts at political assassination,” Hazan said. “This approach of leaks staining people for years is delusional and dangerous.”